Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea return did not furnish fond memories.
Still remembered in West London with ample affection, thanks to that 2010 double, the Italian’s former employers hardly played the hospitable hosts.
Everton were outplayed and outthought at Stamford Bridge, Ancelotti’s current side outdone by one of his many previous. Frank Lampard inflicted an especially one-sided defeat, a former pupil devising victory against a man he holds in high esteem.
Chelsea manager between 2009 and 2011, Ancelotti could do little about the loss. Everton were largely lacklustre, Chelsea utterly dominant. The London club triumphed for only the second time in seven Premier League matches, both building on momentum from midweek and bolstering their top-four hopes.
The scoreline was actually kind to the visitors. Unbeaten in four against Chelsea, Everton were hit for four without reply. It could’ve been more. For the first time under Ancelotti in the league, the Merseysiders failed to score. Chelsea had chewed them up.
"We need to keep our feet on the ground, but today we saw really good stuff," Lampard said. "The whole attitude and focus of the team was strong today ... the application was spot on."
Missing the experience in the middle of Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, Lampard plumped for the youthful enterprise of Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour. Aged 21 and 18 respectively, the former grabbed the opener, the latter his fare share of the headlines. He collected a second man-of-the-match award in five days.
Luminous against Liverpool in the FA Cup on Tuesday, Gilmour was excellent against Everton on his first league start. Even this early in his first-team career, the pocket-sized Scot appears a prodigious talent.
Mount has already given enough evidence of his ability in this breakthrough season. Still, his goal snapped a 19-match drought, the Englishman exchanging passes with Pedro on 14 minutes before swivelling on the edge of the area and drilling expertly past Jordan Pickford. Now an international teammate, Pickford had earlier blocked brilliantly from Mount.
Seven minutes later, Chelsea had doubled their advantage. Ragged and way too reactive, Everton allowed their rivals to play through them, Ross Barkley splitting his old team’s defence to release Pedro, who slotted coolly beyond Pickford. Concluding a sublime one-touch move, it was the Spaniard’s first league goal in 18 games.
With the Bridge bouncing to their side's beat, Everton should have snatched a lifeline, but hotshot Dominic Calvert-Lewin fluffed a golden chance when through on goal. He scooped his shot woefully wide, missing out on a ninth goal in 11 league matches since Ancelotti's appointment.
Nine minutes into the second half, the match as a contest was concluded. Barkley banked another assist, while Willian let fly a low effort from range that skidded into the bottom corner.
In a blink of an eye, Chelsea had a fourth. They worked a short corner, Willian crossed and Olivier Giroud outmuscled his marker to prod home. The fans serenaded “Super Frank”; Ancelotti set to depart on a bum note.
“Everything was wrong today,” said the Everton manager, who must pick up his team in time for the derby against league leaders Liverpool a week on Monday. “The strategy was wrong, the fighting spirit, the attitude, so we have to look forward for another game. It will be difficult but we will be motivated and it’s a derby and we will do our best.”
Lampard had no such worries. There was still time for him to send on Faustino Anjorin, the 18-year-old the fifth teenager he has selected this season. For the final minutes, another 18-year-old, Armando Broja, came on for Giroud. Irrespective of age, Chelsea’s Champions League chances were boosted big time. They jumped to within two points of Leicester City in third.
"We have injuries, but that gives opportunity so we don't want to moan, especially when Billy Gilmour plays how he plays, and Ross Barkley and Mason Mount, and the collective of the team,” Lampard said.
"It reminded me of some of the performances we have lost at home this season - lots of good play and chances, but we haven't taken them. We can reflect on this, what we did. It was comfortable."